By Pfc. Lyndsey Davensport
2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – The Soldiers of 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team "Warrior," 25th Infantry Division, bade farewell to their Macedonian partners and welcomed two new Macedonian platoons during a Transfer of Authority Ceremony at the Sgt. John M. Schoolcraft III Pavilion June 23.
After six months of partnership with Multi-National Division – Baghdad's 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment "Golden Dragons," and 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, "On Time," both from 2nd SBCT, 25th Inf. Div., the Macedonian soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade and a Ranger platoon, are going home.
They are replaced by soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade and a new Ranger platoon.
The Macedonian soldiers developed a partnership with the MND-B Soldiers by working side by side, fully integrated, conducting base defense security operations.
"Even though they have sent just two platoons, which doesn't seem like much, it has had a significant impact for both of the units," said Lt. Col. Joseph Gleichenhaus, a native of San Francisco, who is the commander of 2nd Bn. 11th FA Regt. "It has allowed us to take some of our units and do many things which we would not have been able to do if the Macedonians had not been here."
Gleichenhaus said the Macedonian soldiers were instrumental when the Golden Dragons were sent to Sadr City for recent operations. When elements of the Golden Dragons left, the Macedonian Rangers expanded their platoons and increased the scope of their operations.
"Had it not been for them, the mission may not have been possible," he said.
The MND-B Soldiers and the Macedonian soldiers faced many obstacles when trying to develop their partnership. The largest was the language barrier.
It was daunting at first, but didn't take long to over come, said 2nd Lt. Robert Peeps, a native of Spring, Texas, and platoon leader with 1st Platoon, Battery C, 2-11 FA Regt.
Once the barrier was broken, Peeps said he and his Soldiers learned a lot.
"As a whole, we learned a lot from each other," he said. "Each platoon had something different to bring to the table, and it made for a strong effect."
Not only have the forces done combat operations together, they have also conducted many social events and established long lasting friendships.
"These Soldiers will remember this for the rest of their lives," said Gleichenhaus. "Not everyone gets the opportunity to work side by side with international forces. They think different; they're exposed to different ideas, and they exchange different tactics, techniques and procedures to work together. It's a new mindset, and it's great."
This work, Soldiers say goodbye to Macedonian friends, by SSG Lyndsey Prax, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.